POTSDAM — Clarkson University senior forward Haralds Egle had a breakout year last season, and the final goal he scored showed the skill he has and the damage he can do in his final season for the Golden Knights.
Egle, a native of Latvia, got to a loose puck between the red and blue lines in the second period of Clarkson’s NCAA Tournament game against Notre Dame, skated to just behind the dot in the faceoff circle and fired a fast wrist shot that went over the glove of Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris to give Clarkson a 2-1 lead in a game it eventually lost, 3-2, in overtime.
It was the 19th goal of the season for Egle, who had scored 11 goals combined in his first two seasons. He jumped from 17 points as a freshman, 16 as a sophomore, to 40 last season.
“We think he is a difference-maker,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “He has the ability to score big goals in big games. Notre Dame can check tightly, for him to get time and space and make plays, he possesses that type of quality. He can score against good teams as well and has the ability to get pucks in scoring areas that other players don’t have.”
Egle will start the season on a forward line with junior Jack Jacome and Sacred Heart transfer Zach Tsekos.
Egle’s scoring jump last year can be attributed both to just overall development as a player, something frequently seen in the Clarkson program, as well as being able to be more consistent with the percentage of time he brings his best game to the ice.
“I thought last year was a huge step for him to be a go-to guy for us,” Jones said. “His preparation on a daily basis, his consistency on how he comes to the rink and gets his work done and gets himself prepared for the weekend. He’s fun to have around the rink, that’s for sure.”
What Egle did last year was validate the traits Jones and the coaching staff saw in him when he played in the USHL for the Madison Capitals and Chicago Steel. He scored seven goals with 31 assists in his final junior season in 52 games.
“We thought he had a really-good stick and great puck possession skills,” Jones said. “What I talked about most with him was his consistency. We’d see it in shifts, or we’d see it here and there. Now we see it on a daily basis and on a weekly basis with games.”
While Clarkson’s staff was sizing up Egle as a juniors player, Egle was also making his own study of the Golden Knights’ program.
“I think they were the most ready to take me in right away and give me a chance to play and then I looked at the academics and it was great,” Egle said. “The team, the way it plays, it’s really structured and really resembles the styles that pro teams play. I felt like it would be a good place for me to grow as a hockey player.”
Clarkson won the ECAC Hockey Tournament last year for the first time under Jones and first time since 2007. The Golden Knights have now played in two straight NCAA Tournaments and Egle is ready to add to both lists this season.
“I think it’s important for us to prove that we are better than last year,” Egle said. “It’s definitely better to defend (a title) than to go out and get it. Now we are playing with a different swagger and have a different attitude going in. We feel great. I think it’s going to be a great year for us. (The championship) feels amazing, the work we put in and it finally paid off in the third year. It was our turn.”
Whenever this season ends the hockey won’t stop for Egle who hopes to join former linemate Nico Sturm, now with the Minnesota Wild organization, as an NHL player.
“He’s good defensively and he’s sound,” Jones said of Egle. “I have the utmost faith that if someone gives him an opportunity he’s going to be a solid player.”
Said Egle of the NHL, “That’s always the goal. I’m happy for those guys who go up there and prove that they belong there. For me, personally, I have to grow in every area of the game yet. That’s kind of my mentality this year, to just get better every day. I’m trying to take the next step and just add to it.”